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Dozens of arrests, citations made Wednesday as law enforcement clears UW encampment

Multiple people, including at least four UWPD officers, were hurt Wednesday morning.

Dozens of arrests, citations made Wednesday as law enforcement clears UW encampment

Source: Sam Davisson / Civic Media

May 1, 2024 12:04 PM CDT
By: Jimmie Kaska

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MADISON, Wis. (WMDX) – The University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department said it arrested 34 people at a pro-Palestine protest encampment on campus Wednesday morning.

According to the release, police had not yet figured out how many of the people that were arrested are affiliated with the university.

Four of the people arrested were taken to jail for resisting arrest or battery to a police officer.

UW Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin said that about 30 protesters were arrested for interfering with police that were attempting to remove tents set up at the protest encampment.

The UWPD confirmed that state and local law enforcement assisted the UWPD in clearing the encampment on Library Mall. Police started taking down tents at about 7:15 a.m. Wednesday.

Law enforcement agencies said multiple people were hurt, including four UWPD officers and one state trooper.

On Monday, UW-Madison officials released a statement that asked protesters to obey state and campus laws. Those laws include not having tents set up on campus property.

Wednesday morning, police removed all of the tents that had been set up before leaving the protest areas around 9:30 a.m.

Law enforcement in riot gear arrived at the UW-Madison campus Wednesday morning. At least a dozen arrests were made, according to the UWPD. (Photo by Sam Davisson / Civic Media)

Chancellor Mnookin said in an email to UW students and employees Wednesday that while many of the protesters peacefully removed tents and camping supplies, some students and staff did not, resulting in citations.

“Every individual was given the opportunity to move away from the tent area and continue peaceful protest without further police engagement,” Mnookin said. “While many chose to do so, approximately 30 protesters were cited and several others resisted police action to remove tents or otherwise interfered with the operation and were arrested.”

UW System President Jay Rothman said he supported the action taken by UW-Madison and Chancellor Mnookin.

“We commit to upholding free speech rights while simultaneously upholding the law and our mission to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of our community,” Rothman said. “I commend Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin for her reasonableness and resolve, as well as her commitment to free expression and the safety and security of her students.”

The pro-Palestinian protests are in response to policies and funding for Israel. Protest leaders are calling for UW to divest from companies that have business ties to Israel.

On Library Mall at UW-Madison, hundreds of students began their protest Monday morning, and several camped out overnight the past two nights. The UWPD estimated that the crowd was 100 to 200 people. Other eyewitness estimates have the figure over 300 people.

Tents are set up during a pro-Palestine protest on the UW-Madison campus on April 29, 2024.
Tents are set up during a pro-Palestine protest on the UW-Madison campus on April 29, 2024. (Photo by Terry Bell / Civic Media)

The protests on Madison and Milwaukee UW campuses has drawn the attention of nearly every prominent Wisconsin politician. Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday that the encampment would have to end, whether it’s done voluntarily or not.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin said she supported the right to peacefully protest, but added that “no one is above the law” and that the protests couldn’t promote harm or antisemitism.

A protester at a pro-Palestine encampment on the campus of UW-Madison speaks into a megaphone on May 1, 2024. Law enforcement cleared the encampment of tents and made at least a dozen arrests. (Photo by Sam Davisson / Civic Media)

Republican Senate candidate Eric Hovde called the protests “antisemitic.” He quote-tweeted Republican Congressman Derrick Van Orden, who also labeled the protests antisemitic and asked Democratic members of Congress from Wisconsin to condemn them.

Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan, who voted against sending aid to Israel, said that the conflict in Gaza is not only a concern on college campuses, but in rural Wisconsin as well.

UW officials said that protests are allowed on campus as long as they follow policy. Wednesday morning’s law enforcement campaign focused only on removing tents from the encampment. The tents used for the encampment are not allowed under state statute.

Mnookin said that as long as the tents stay off of campus, UW leadership was ready to talk to protest organizers.

The ACLU of Wisconsin said that using police in riot gear to remove the tents made the situation worse.

“Responding to peaceful acts of dissent with militarized police is dangerous and only makes things worse,” Melinda Brennan, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, said. “Too often in situations like this, we’ve seen police behave recklessly, violate the law, and endanger people gathered at protests and acts of civil disobedience.”

As of late Wednesday morning, protesters remained on Library Mall and tents could be seen being put back up.

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